Image Size: 10″ x 7-3/4″
One of the tailless swallowtail butterflies, the veins of the black forewing in Pratt’s Birdwing are heavily outlined in white that is even more pronounced on the underside. The hindwing is a golden butter yellow, with the outer wing margin scalloped in black and some diffuse black scales blending into yellow on the lower third of the wing. In the bright sun, the golden hindwing displays a bluish-green opalescence at different angles, both above and below, and most likely serves as a recognition signal between males and females. The female is slightly duller in color, does not have the opalescence, and the yellow markings on its hindwings are reduced.
As with other members of the genus Troides, males of Pratt’s Birdwing have dorsal pouches on the undersides of their hindwings which are densely packed with numerous wooly androconial hairs. These crescent-shaped hairs disburse chemical substances or pheromones to attract females and are used as stimuli during courtship.
Endemic to the forests of Buru Island, the Pratt’s Birdwing is generally observed flying in clearings, but it occasionally travels some distance in search of nectar. With the available forest habitats diminishing and because it is prized by most collectors, many members of the genus Troides are currently listed as endangered species.
Text by Jacqueline Miller, Ph. D., Associate Curator, Allyn Museum of Entomology, Florida Museum of Natural History and Former President, The Lepidopterists’ Society
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Located in Duxbury MA